Aetna exit to leave most Missouri counties only one option on insurance exchange

The decision by health insurer Aetna to dramatically reduce its presence on government-run exchanges has significant consequences when it comes to competition across the country and in Missouri. The move raises new questions about the strength of the exchanges — also called marketplaces — and needed fixes the industry wants to see to make them more profitable.

A St. Louis Post-Dispatch analysis found that with departures by Aetna — which does business as Coventry in Missouri — and UnitedHealth, 83 percent of Missouri’s 114 counties will have only one insurance carrier to choose from when shopping on for 2017 coverage. And no county in Missouri will offer consumers the option of choosing from among three or more carriers.

That affects what hospitals and providers consumers can access. Less competition among insurers also can lead to higher health care prices.

It also hits lower-income individuals and families hard. To qualify for a subsidized plan, Missouri consumers must shop on

Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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